Pre-slash, because you know how long I like to wait before I give people want they REALLY want.
"…In breaking news, as Search and Rescue and the Special Army Corps comb the newly discovered island tentatively called 'Yamatai' in the notorious Dragons' Triangle, the body count continues to rise. Operations believes that as many as fifty vessels could be wrecked off the coast of the new island – each with entire crews aboard. Only a handful of survivors managed to make it back to the mainland, and we'll cross live to the International Medical Centre in Tokyo where they are currently being treated for their injuries. Sarah Handley is on the ground in Tokyo. Sarah?" Another voice spoke. "Thanks, Robert. Here, in front of Tokyo International Medical Centre, the whole world waits to hear about the horrors that have been discovered in the mountains of Yamatai—"
Horrors I didn't actually want to even think about at that moment. I turned over in the bed. "Sam…"
Wrapped in a hospital blanket, she was standing transfixed over near the television. She made a face when I looked over at her. "I know, I know," she said reluctantly. "But you don't get do-overs for this stuff, you know? Look," she held the remote at the TV and clicked through a series of channels. All of them had news coverage featuring the island. "We're on every channel, not just my dad's."
I gave her a look, and she held the remote up one more time and the screen went black.
Wandering over to the window, she parted the curtains and took a peek outside. There was so much light coming from below despite the fact it would have been about two in the morning. I couldn't even imagine how many people were outside. I could also see news helicopter doing laps of the hospital.
Sam would have loved to been filming the whole thing, I thought. It was a pity that her aunt had taken the camera off her as soon as she'd arrived, no doubt to hand over to the BBC at some strategic moment. In the meantime, Sam was walking around restlessly like a smoker who'd had their cigarettes confiscated. The doctors had even taken her mobile off her before I'd gone into surgery.
She let the curtains fall closed again. "Well," she shot me a grin. "I did say you'd be the world famous Lara Croft one day, didn't I?"
"Not exactly how I'd imagined it." I smiled faintly back at her as she came and sat on the edge of my bed. "Shouldn't you be sleeping?"
This time, she gave me a look. "Shouldn't you?" She examined the machine feeding IV fluids into my arm. "Besides, how do you sleep off 'nearly possessed by ancient demi-god'? I don't think there's medical advice for that." She lifted the edge of my blankets, presumably to check on my wound. Unfortunately it was covered by a hospital gown and what felt like a pillow-sized wad of gauze dressing. "Is the pain too bad?"
I considered her question. "Not as much since the operation." It turned out I'd perforated my bowel, and by the time I'd arrived in the medical centre, I'd been in a rather bad way. I thought I was just very tired given what I'd been through, but the doctors had kept checking my blood pressure and my temperature and shaking their heads at each other. Trying her best to keep up with translating what they were saying, Sam had given up with the medical terminology and been entering words into the Japanese Dictionary app on her iPhone. "What's 'septicaemia'?" she had asked me, as if I'd have known.
They'd pumped me to the eyeballs full of antibiotics and then operated. I actually felt a lot better now than I had yesterday morning when I woke up, despite having spent half the day under general anaesthetic. Sam had pulled her usual strings (which usually consisted of mentioning her father's name) and had her own bed wheeled into my room in Recovery. The doctors had told her to let me rest, but she'd basically ignored them.
"Scoot over," she told me, as if I wasn't extremely ill.
"Your own bed not soft enough?" I joked, but still managed to slowly and awkwardly move so there was enough room for her to lie down next to me. "Watch the IV cord."
"Aw, come on," she swung her legs up and ducked under the cord as she lay down, so it was across her chest. "I was thinking we could share the morphine."
"Get your own grievous injury," I told her faux-seriously. "Those painkillers are all mine."
"Killjoy." She arranged the blanket over both of us. It was rather sweet to watch her diligently tucking me in and making sure I had enough room and enough blanket on the tiny hospital bed. After she'd finished, she curled up next to me and put her head on my shoulder. It seemed like a bad moment to mention she was pulling on some fresh stitches on my arm, so I decided I would endure it. Her hair smelt like shampoo, but not the apple-scented one she usually used.
I must have been drifting off, because went she spoke it jolted me a little. "I thought you were going to die," she murmured. "I didn't really tell you everything the doctors were saying."
Judging by the devastation on her face when she'd been listening to them, I'd figured as much. "I've discovered it's rather difficult to kill me." I smiled wryly at her, and she seemed comforted by that, relaxing against me.
"Good," she said, exhaling. Her breath seeped through my clothes and warmed the skin on my arm. "I'd don't know what I'd do if…" She didn't finish that statement. It was only a few seconds before she spoke again, lifting her head off my shoulder. Her voice was breaking. "Lara…"
She was so close I could see every detail of her face. She had some tiny bruises on her neck – presumably from Matthias – and some cuts around her mouth. Her eyes were swimming. My eyes settled on her lips again, remembering one drunken snog in Berlin after a group of rowdy British boys on a stag night had dared us to.
She was swallowing with difficulty, her lips pressed in a line. She wanted to say something to me, but couldn't push it through the emotion. She was probably so exhausted and so overwhelmed, just like all of us were. I reached up and brushed the hair from her face so it wouldn't stick there when the tears spilt down her cheeks.
That movement broke the dam. Her tears rolled of her cheeks and her small nose onto my shoulder, wetting my gowns and the dressing. With the hand that was behind her back I stroked her, holding her against me as she collapsed again on my shoulder.
It was so good to have her here with me, safe. Every time I'd heard her voice through the radio I'd worried it would be the last time I'd hear it, especially as everyone else had started to die around me. I'd never struggled so much to breathe as when I'd seen that corpse trying fill her body with its filthy soul. When she was across my lap after it was all over, smiling up at me…
My own eyes swam a little, but I blinked away the tears before she could see them.
None of it was real, yet. I was dreading when it would be. It was surreal to be sick without Roth watching football and yelling at the TV while I was convalescing next to him. He was never much good at the whole taking care of someone thing, but I was so used to his awkward attempts that I almost wondered how I would get better without him.
As if reading my thoughts, she said. "You're okay."
I nodded, trying not to remember the swamps of blood, or the axe in Roth's back, or Alex pretending to be stoic as I'd left him. Poor Steph… whatever had happened to her, I didn't want to know about it. There would be time for all of that later when I wasn't stitched up like an old rag doll and full of drugs.
I didn't really want to think at all, and it was comforting to have Sam curled beside me.
As I was falling asleep again, Sam woke me up. "You could totally have my kidney if you need it," she told me, in all seriousness. "Like, if something like this happens again but it gets you in the kidney."
It was such a strange thing to stay that I couldn't help but laugh at the suddenness of it. The pain in my stomach from the movement of it was the only thing that stopped me. "I'll keep that in mind," I told her, ruffling her hair. "Go to sleep or we won't get any before we have to fend off all your relatives in the morning."
Smiling into my shoulder, she did so. I fell asleep soon after her, dreaming of the rocking of the sea and gentle rain.